Waiting For Superman Stirs Emotions In Fort Wayne

By John W. Davis

December 10, 2010 Updated Dec 10, 2010 at 11:55 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Charter school versus public schools. A controversial documentary, "Waiting for Superman" took that debate head on.

The special screening shown at the Cinema Center had many saying it was pure motivation.

"It gave me an opportunity to challenge what the current system is and try to move it, or better what we already have," said East Allen County Schools parent Paulette Nellems.

One of the main messages of the documentary was the importance of great teachers, told through the experiences of young students.

The climax of the movie is the lottery process that is used when charter schools have more applicants than spaces available. In the movie, 10% to 50% of applicants were able to get into their school of choice. The parents and students interviewed in the documentary said charter school education would give them a better shot at life, than their neighborhood public school.

Fort Wayne Community Schools Board President Mark GiaQuinta spoke before the movie began highlighting some of the district's successes and said failing school may be a reality for larger metropolitan areas but not FWCS.

Fellow FWCS Board Member Pamela Martin-Diaz added, "The administration, teachers and the district believes every child can achieve at a high level and failure is not an option."

However, some in attendance said it is not the fault of the school system if the district has a failing school. Instead, it is the fault of the entire community.

"I think it's very important for those who have the information of how to help parents advocate for their children, to share that information with them... how they can help the teachers understand the needs of their child," said Ball State University Assistant Professor of Adult & Community Education, Dr. Ruby Cain.

One of the issues in the movie directly relates to something currently being discussed in Indiana. Republican Governor Mitch Daniels wants the state to adopt a performance based pay scale for teachers. A similar idea was tossed around a few years ago in Washington D.C. by Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee. However, the Washington D.C. public schools teachers union never brought the proposal up for a vote.

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